On the very first part of the excellent film Transcendence, the scientist Dr. Will Casper (played by Johnny Depp) says that "in a short time their analytical capacity will be much greater than the collective intelligence of every human being ever born in the history of the world." He refers to the project of developing a computer that can think and have feelings as a human being, which would meet the "technological singularity" concept first mentioned by von Neumann in 1958. There are numerous predictions of when we will reach this point, where computational intelligence will surpass all the intelligence ever produced by mankind. Some point to 2050, others to 2100. Behold the film comes to cinemas at the same time that IBM Brazil gets "Watson Center of Competency for Latin America."
As we have seen here in the Explora!, "Watson is much more than a computer, it is the centerpiece of an IBM strategy to develop computational systems with cognitive ability." The fact it is coming to Latin America is of great importance to IBM. More than just building a new data center, IBM is building a competence center with specialists in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. The center brings to Latin America what is most modern in terms of cognitive computing.
The wait was long. Since its launch in 2007, have been years of hard work and research. The Watson decreased in size and gained computational power. One of our main challenges was to teach Portuguese, and its many variations. The ability to read and understand natural language is key to the success of the tasks expected to be performed by the system. Just to get a better idea, currently about 80% of the data produced are not in structured format. Furthermore, this step is important so that Watson can develop hypotheses and, finally, so you can get answers with a high degree of assertiveness.
Lesson learned, time to pack the bags
Watson arrives in Brazil in the last quarter of this year. IBM's goal is clear and immediate: to use Watson in the area of medical diagnostics, in interaction with consumers at retail companies and financial markets.
There is still a long road ahead to reach the "technological singularity" and, surely, IBM is leading this huge transformation. The expected benefits are significant . The learning process is constant. Currently, the system can interpret natural language and answer questions. It is also possible to infer what the next question to be asked.
It is expected that, in some years, Watson will be able to make questions, something still distant. When that day comes, the famous phrase from Voltaire, "Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers" will have a rereading, "judge a computer by his questions rather than by his answers."
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